This past week we had a strategic planning meeting. We have a great team of people who are helping us look to the future of the Church. At the meeting, one of the members of the team was talking about Pepsi and their strategic planning. He said their simple mission statement is this, “We sell soda.” If it is helping them to sell soda, they do it, if it doesn’t, they don’t. The Church’s mission is this, “We make disciples of Jesus Christ.” That’s it. If a program or service helps us to make disciples of Christ we should do it, if it doesn’t, we shouldn’t. Willow Creek puts the mission this way, “We turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.” Northpoint Church in Atlanta says it this way, “We exist to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.”
I think at the end of the day the reason many Catholic Churches are failing is because they took their eye off the ball of making disciples. It is very easy to do, I’m sure not all our programs are the best at making disciples and I am sure we slip off the mission all the time. To succeed and grow we must never forget that Jesus told us to make disciples and he is clear through the Gospel that he wants everyone in the world to be a disciple (make disciples of all nations) and that becoming a disciple of him takes 100 percent effort (pick up your cross, deny yourself).
To be a healthy, vibrant Church, we must constantly evaluate all our programs and efforts based on whether the programs make disciples or not. As a Church with a small staff, that also means examining the cost benefit analysis, asking, “Are we making enough impact, enough disciples with this program to keep feeding it and giving it energy?”
God blesses Churches that seek to live out the mission he has given to his believers. At Nativity, we make disciples and I pray we get better at doing it and we never take our eye off that ball.